5 Things Your Teens Shouldn’t Hear From You

I was a high school teacher long enough for me to know that teens can hide their deepest emotions behind a smile or funny disposition. They would never admit to being bruised and wounded inside, until circumstances bring them to an inescapable breaking point.

If their emotional turmoil was not caused by a situation at home, it’s brought about by words said by an adult. It doesn’t matter how many times these words were said; once is almost always enough to tear down the self-confidence that took them a while to build.

Here are five of the most damaging words we must avoid telling our teens:

5 Things Your Teens Shouldn't Hear From You

“Stop crying!” / “Tumigil ka sa pag-iyak!”

To tell teens to stop crying is to be dismissive of how they feel and how they try to regulate this feeling. Crying has always been a way of communicating, self-soothing, and pain management. If it is our teens’ way of expressing how they feel, let them be.

The last thing we want to happen is to have them master masking their real emotions when they’re in front of us. We want them to be as open and transparent as they can be as they, like us adults, need others to process emotions. Let’s allow them to cry, then let’s approach them with gentleness when they’re ready to speak.

“Don’t you ever think?” / “Hindi ka ba nag-iisip?”

This line may be so common in Filipino households that we tend to diminish its impact. We adults tend to blurt this out due to a wide range of situations – from a trivial misstep in the kitchen to a more serious situation involving siblings or studies. When teens hear this, they hear our distrust most of all.

It’s inevitable for them to make mistakes which are  part of their growth and self-discovery. We may not always agree with their choices, but we shouldn’t be quick to judge. They may have thought about a situation not in a way we do, but the result of their choice is not always within their control. We cannot think for our kids all the time.

“During our time, ______.” / “Kami noon, ______.”

This prompt may be a healthy one when our aim is just to paint a picture of a world they didn’t see and know. But when this prompt is used to air out thoughts that reflect our superiority over them, it will make them question themselves and their actions.

“Kami noon, nakikinig kami sa lahat ng mga payo at pangaral sa amin.”

“Kami noon, marunong kami magpahalaga sa kung ano lang ang kayang ibigay ng mga magulang namin.” 

“Kami noon, hindi kami sumasagot sa mga nakatatanda sa amin.”

It goes on and on. These statements help create an environment that our teens would not want to be part of. Let’s acknowledge the kind of environment they have now and lovingly parent them according to their needs and the world they live in.

“Are you talking back now?” / “Marunong ka na sumagot ngayon?”

We adults run our household, but this doesn’t mean we can impose total silence on our teens when important matters need to be discussed. They are part of our family, and they must also be given opportunities to participate in decision making early on.

To be a parent or adult in a home does not mean we can exercise total control. We can always guide and support from a point of humility because our teens’ views matter. Let’s not belittle or humiliate them just because they’re younger than us.

“You’ll never amount to anything.” / “Wala kang mararating sa buhay.”

When our teens are taking time to rest and recharge, let’s not label it as laziness and apathy. They’re not setting themselves up for failure either when they want to pursue a career which is not in line with what you dreamed of for them.

The words we say become our teens’ inner voice. What do they hear from us everyday? It may be an everyday challenge for us to use our words to build emotionally strong teens, but at the end of the day, all these efforts will be worth it.

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